Just today I had a conversation with a church leader who said, “The reality is most parents just don’t engage.” Unfortunately, I have this conversation multiple times a week with various leaders in the local body of Believers.
What’s always fun for me is to unpack how I feel as a parent. My kids are in 7th, 8th, and 9th grade and college. My husband and I answer questions daily that range from, “Why hasn’t my growth spurt come yet?” to “Do you think I’m fat?” to “Can you give me a breakdown on the book of Levitcus?” (Yes, I’m serious about that one.) to “Why can’t I use my technology for 24 hours straight?” Everywhere I turn there is a new obstacle to jump in raising two and ½ teens. We drink angst for breakfast in our home.
Some days I feel like I am hiding in the bathroom for a breath while they are outside pounding at the door. I just want a moment. Listen, it isn’t that I don’t want to engage. WE ARE OVERWHELMED.
Then your kids enter an age where they are trying to stretch out their proverbial wings of freedom and you think you are just supposed to let them go. Perhaps, you want to hold on too tightly. This makes us appear disinterested or overprotective. So your observation may be correct. Perhaps we are not engaging the way we should. Here are my thoughts to “other” parents out there like me:
Our kids want us. They are in a tug of war between wanting all of us and wanting to be independent. They don’t want us to push them away. They want to do the pushing and know we aren’t moving.
So often we over-complicate the matter. Our child says, “Come to my game,” then tell us not to scream too loudly while we’re there. We interpret this as, “They don’t want us.” I promise they do. When we aren’t at the game it matters. Be present.They need it.
Be the Parent:
As my kids get older this can be harder than I think. Sometimes we have the same interests or can carry conversations on the same level. Yet, they are still looking to us for direction and support. They are looking for accountability in the way we parents provide, as they move towards adulthood.
I know this seems oversimplified. I think it goes like this for both us parents and youth people alike: I PROMISE there is no one else your child wants more than you. Now you might be a single parent, divorced, a grandparent, friend or foster parent raising a child. They need you. They need us. More importantly, even when they don’t know how to show it. They want us.
What are you doing?